- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tensions remained high Tuesday in Missouri as police, protesters and policymakers prepared for unrest in anticipation of the grand jury’s verdict in the August shooting death of teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon swore in Tuesday members of a newly created Ferguson Commission charged with “studying the underlying issues raised by events in Ferguson” and offering recommendations no later than Sept. 15 of next year.

“These 16 men and women bring to the table a rich diversity of life experience and points of view — business owners and not-for-profit leaders, teachers and lawyers, police officers and activists, pastors and public servants,” said the Democratic governor in a statement.

“But while they are clearly a diverse group, they are united by their shared passion to promote understanding, to hasten healing, to ensure equal opportunities in education and employment, and to safeguard the civil rights of all our citizens,” Mr. Nixon said.

His announcement came a day after he signed an executive order activating the Missouri National Guard to back up law enforcement in case of protests or rioting after the grand jury concludes its investigation into the Aug. 9 shooting.

There is reason to be concerned: Already social media is filled with calls for protests if the grand jury fails to indict Officer Darren Wilson, who shot the unarmed 18-year-old Brown in an episode that ignited mass rioting, charges of racism and a national debate on the militarization of police forces.

Ferguson protesters with the group Justice for Mike Brown released a list and map of “potential action locations,” including the governor’s office, the St. Louis Police Department and the office of St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch, who convened the grand jury.

Also on the list: a slew of small businesses that have nothing to do with the case, including Emerson Electric, a company that’s been a Ferguson fixture for more than five decades, as well as Anheuser-Busch, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Boeing.

The map includes 10 businesses identified as donors to the campaign of Mr. McCulloch, but warned demonstrators not to convene near hospitals “so that emergency room access is clear and available at all times.”

The list also identifies churches that serve as “sanctuaries” from “police violence.”

“We are on the right side of justice. Stand with us,” says the post on noindictment.org, which offers text alerts for the grand jury’s decision.

Meanwhile, another social media forum called St. Louis Coptalk, which is frequented by police, warned residents to “get a gun” before the grand jury’s decision.

According to the website Vocativ, the message said, “If you do not have a gun, get one and get one soon. We will not be able to protect you or your family. It will be your responsibility to protect them. Our gutless commanders and politicians have neutered us. I’m serious, get a gun, get more than one, and keep one with you at all times.”

The poster’s identity as a police officer couldn’t be independently confirmed, TheBlaze reported. But the warning isn’t that far off from what the FBI has advised.

In a Monday intelligence bulletin, the FBI said that the grand jury’s finding “will likely be exploited by some individuals to justify threats and attacks against law enforcement and critical infrastructure. This also poses a threat to those civilians engaged in lawful or otherwise constitutionally protected activities.”

Supporters of Mr. Wilson, who is on paid administrative leave, raised enough money through a crowdfunding website to erect a billboard in Ferguson that says, “#PantsUPDontLOOT.” It’s a reference to a Twitter hashtag used by supporters of Mr. Brown that says, “#HandsUpDontShoot.”

Witnesses and police have given conflicting accounts of the fatal shooting. Police have said Mr. Wilson acted in self-defense after Mr. Brown attacked him in his police car, while some witnesses have said Mr. Brown had his hands up in surrender when he was shot.

Missouri won’t be the only site of demonstrations. The Ferguson National Response Network has listed times and places for over 50 protests nationwide, from Seattle to Albuquerque to New York City.

Most are scheduled for the day after the grand jury’s decision, although some call for rallies the day of the announcement.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide